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Because of Horses

Aug 10, 2018

Riders looking for an added competitive advantage are joining the ranks of nearly every professional sports and Olympic team in incorporating mental training into their regime. Regardless of athletic level – from elite to amateur – athletes recognize that the highest physical achievements can be seriously undermined if your head isn’t in the game.


Discussing this topic with Elise is Dr. Margie Sugarman, a leading board-certified psychotherapist and sports consultant, with an extensive client list that includes Olympic, professional, and amateur athletes across the US.


In this episode, Elise and Margie discuss sports psychology and how it helps athletes of all capabilities increase their competitive performance, both in training and in the arena. Margie also explains how losing can actually be a good thing, how to shift your internal dialogue to improve your results (both in the competitive arena and in day-to-day life), when a drive to win can take a negative turn toward perfectionism, how parents and coaches can work most successfully with young riders, and Margie’s thoughts on the value of pre-performance rituals.


Topics of Discussion:

[:45] About Elise’s guest today, Dr. Margie Sugarman.

[1:50] How Margie describes sports psychology and what’s driving its increasing popularity among professional and amateur athletes.

[3:02] Specific elements and strategies Margie found to be most helpful in working with equestrian athletes.

[4:50] How Margie partners with coaches to help an athlete perform at their best.

[7:48] How young riders, accustomed to competing as an individual, make the adjustment to functioning as a team when they move up in the ranks.

[10:42] How Margie connects with athletes to earn their trust so she can best help them improve their performance, both in and out of the competitive arena.

[13:49] Is there something about the human brain that naturally veers to negative self-talk or is it cultural and taught within society?

[15:26] Is it always wise to “climb right back on the horse,” as the old saying goes?

[21:10] Margie’s thoughts on confidence vs. expectations.

[23:20] How losing can be good for you.

[26:01] How some athletes are able to switch their mental “gears” in order to prevent negativity.

[28:37] How do parents and coaches help young athletes overcome a too-powerful drive to win?

[29:49] How to know when you, as an athlete, have done the right mental preparation and are in the correct frame of mind when entering the arena.

[31:40] How sports psychology is similar to many performance-related issues and day-to-day experiences.

[33:37] How Margie’s counseling helps athletes most, especially in that moment right before they enter the arena.

[35:45] Can pre-performance rituals help?

[40:25] How does a parent or coach help young riders understand that performing well is not based solely on talent, but also on practice, time, and effort?

[46:22] The positive result on society’s views of mental health because elite athletes openly seek sports psychologists’ help.

[53:06] What Margie wished people knew about sports psychology.

[54:55] Where to learn more about Margie’s practice and follow her online.


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Mentioned in this Episode:

Oklahoma State University Equestrian Team

Stacy Westfall

BOH Episode with Stacy Westfall

Margie’s Business #: (631)-361-7828


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